Friday, November 19, 2004

Patent applications for new ways to keep unrefrigerated tortillas fresh

Of further examples of the Bayh-Dole Act, Ralph Waniska of Texas A&M University is filing patent applications on new ways to keep unrefrigerated tortillas fresh.

Two of the methods involve ways to make tortillas thinner, with the knowledge that thinner tortillas stay fresh longer.

A third method involves the use of an enzyme otherwise used to produce high fructose corn syrup. Waniska finds that the use of this enzyme makes the proteins in the tortilla function more effectively to hold up the tortilla structure.

Waniska has a colloboration with Iowa State University to make tortillas that last four years without refrigeration.

And, yes, there is a use. NASA has been using flour tortillas since the early days of the space shuttle, because they make few crumbs to get lost in zero gravity. NASA would like longer lasting tortillas. One of the favorites is apparently peanut butter and jelly tortilla sandwichs. Hmm... is this a prior public use or an infringement of the crustless peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich covered within U.S. Patent 6,004,596 for a "sealed crustless sandwich."

[I didn't find Waniska's applications on the USPTO database, but there are other tortilla applications: 20040191378, 20040105925, 20040071854, 20030066106. Did find reference to papers: Mitre-Diestre, C.M., Ames, N.P., Rooney, L.W. and Waniska, R.D. 2001. Effect of amulose and -glucan content on barley tortilla properties. Tortilla Industry Association Technology Meeting. Los Angeles, California, May 2001; Gomez, M. H., Rooney, L. W., Waniska, R. D. and Pflugfelder, R. L. 1987; Dry corn masa flours for tortilla and snack production; Cereal Foods World. 32:372.]

[For a listing of articles on the Bayh-Dole Act, see]


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